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Mughal Miniature Painting

The art of miniature painting was introduced in India by Mughals (1526-1858). The Mughal rulers being great patrons of art, spread this painting style to other kingdoms and dynasties where it was adapted using the local flavors.

This art, which originated in Persia (modern Iran), was introduced in India by the Mughal emperor Humayun. His son, Emperor Akbar, encouraged it greatly and facilitated its merging with various Indian styles, creating a distinct Indo-Islamic style of painting. During Akbar’s reign the themes mainly related to war and hunting scenes. Bright colors were used in their making. They exhibited more narrative content as compared to the Iranian miniatures, which were more philosophical in nature.

Bright and contrasting shades like red, blue, green and yellow were adapted in the Indian style. Images from various legends and folklores were depicted in these paintings. They also included images from animal and plant kingdom.

Colors were derived from natural materials. They were prepared by the artists themselves. Raw materials like vegetables, fruits, oil, soil, lime, indigo and lapis lazuli were used in the making. Even eggs, gold powder and silver foil were sometimes used. The initial sketch was made using burnt wood. The brushes were made from hairs removed from the inner parts of the sheep’s ears and the tails of squirrels and kittens.

Updated on 7th June, 2005

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